Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Just Trying to Grasp It All

Long before I became a widow for the first time, I advocated for orphans heavily. I’d have to say before I truly grasped the biblical mandate to care for orphans and widows (God defines it as pure religion), He had already impressed upon my heart the yearning and clear calling to be a voice for the least of the these. Now…granted…my voice tended to sway heavily in the area of the orphan crisis, because it was easier for my mind to grasp, and children, in general, seemed to be easier ones for whom to advocate. And then I became one…

A widow, that is. My previous view of a widow had been blown to smithereens…the eighty-year-something, married a long time, two to three children, white-headed, blessed life…type of widow. Yes…I, too, put my stereotypical vision of a widow in a shallow box. Now, those women inside that box are precious too, and God gives us that same biblical mandate to care for them, but I didn’t go seeking those opportunities like I did the ones for orphans. I’m ashamed to admit that now, but I think it was, in part, ignorance to the needs around me and also intentional avoidance. In my mind, I was at least doing something for “part of the equation”…I advocated orphans for heavily…didn’t that count for something?

That mindset of mine changed abruptly on May 4, 20111 when I became a widow…at 39 years of age. No longer did I meet that pre-conceived notion and vision in my head of what a widow looks like. NOW…James 1:27 became extremely real to me, as I was one part of that mandate. And…suddenly…I got it! I not only got it, but I was quick to ask the Lord to never let me forget what this feels like (in case I wasn’t always a widow). I prayed often for Him to reveal to me how it is He wants us to care for widows, and, thankfully, He surrounded me with a group of people from my church and the church-at-large who DID get it and cared for me deeply. Through their actions, they boldly lived out James 1:27.

And again…after God so graciously blessed me with a beautiful new marriage to another incredible man who also got “it”! The command and calling on our lives to care for the least of these, especially orphans and widows. And…most of you know the rest of that story…we added, through adoption, four more children to our already blended nest of five, creating an incredibly beautiful nest of nine.

And…just when I think God had us in a sweet spot…I not only “survived” my widow experience, but God brought some incredible beauty out of those dull ashes through the gift of remarriage and an expanded family…yours, mine, and ours. He gave the gift of family to four orphans through international adoption and domestic foster to adopt. And…he expanded our hearts to love even deeper outside of our neatly “perfect box” with the red bow on top. I couldn’t wait to see what God would do with this new love story…one that I promised to use to glorify Him first and foremost.

Barely into figuring out our new “roles” in this expanded and beautiful family, February 12, 2017 was ushered into our lives quite abruptly, and I became a widow for the SECOND time at the age of 45. And…this time…it was drastically different. As I was now a widow of recently orphaned children who suddenly felt fear again of being orphaned all over again.

How do I begin to explain this one to our children, and even to myself, if truth be told? All I know is I suddenly found myself back in those deep waters again. The same ones from where Jesus reached for me, rescued me, and restored my life in a beautiful way.

That Jesus of mine…He’s the SAME…yesterday, today, and forever! While I may not have all the answers, I know the God that does. And…it’s in Him, I put my full trust. It’s in Him, I cling to for my next breath. And…it’s in Him, I expect another miracle of a life restored one day…in His timing. Until I see it with my eyes, I continue to believe…. #HeIsStillGood

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. ~James 1:27 (NLT)

If you still feel led to tangibly help our family, click here for some suggestions on ways to do so. Or…just do whatever God lays on your heart to do. We are beyond grateful at how He continues to meet our daily needs!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Checking In…

Celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary! God has given us many mountain-top experiences during this first year, as we've asked Him to lead us!

Celebrating our 1-year wedding anniversary! God has given us many mountain-top experiences during this first year!

Since the 40-day blog post run ended on August 2, I’ve been a bit blog quiet. I make no apologies (this time…ha!), as I’ve been enjoying having my girlie back from her month long mission trip to Uganda. We’ve also celebrated the 2nd birthday of our grandprincess. We said “goodbye for now” to our 17-year-old, as he headed back to Oklahoma to start school and to start practicing with a competitive basketball team. Our 16-year-old also just began her junior year of high school last week. And…most recently, my hubby and I celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary! It’s been a FULL and EXCITING couple of weeks!

I wanted to remind you that the widow / remarried widow survey is still available through this Saturday only (I may run it through Sunday, but that’s not a guarantee at this point). If you or someone you know would be willing to fill this out, I would oh so appreciate it. I’m using the responses received in the creation of a book proposal I’m crafting. These responses are definitely an integral part of the birthing of this book that God laid on my heart some time ago. The survey is certainly not perfect, not scientific, and I’m sure I could have worded some of the questions better, but it’s what I’m starting with, and it’s already been so extremely helpful, as I’ve begun reviewing the answers.

You can access the survey HERE. Be sure to share the link to this post with any of your friends that might be willing to participate. The more the merrier!

I’ll return to regular blog posting again right after this upcoming Labor Day Weekend! Can’t wait to continue to share my “Out of Deep Waters” life experiences with you!

Be blessed bloggy friends!

Anniversary2

Friday, June 28, 2013

Impossible to Forget

Image courtesy of www.flowersociety.org

Image courtesy of www.flowersociety.org

Just last week…in the neighboring town…a 19-year-old young man lost his life following a tragic drowning. When I first heard his name, I recognized it. He was a standout athlete from a local high school and graduated just a little over a year ago. Most everyone in the community that followed high school sports knew his name.

I found myself swept up into watching the news following Tre’s drowning. His body wasn’t recovered immediately, because the location where he drowned created a difficult recovery environment…cold, murky, deep water. Local dive teams had to alternate to safely keep up with the immense effort being used to bring Tre out of the water. As I watched the video footage…read the updates…my mind went back to him.

Diving was my late husband’s passion. Chris also volunteered for his local fire department and rescue squad for approximately fourteen years. I have no doubt that if he were still here, he would have offered his assistance in helping to recover Tre.

If only…

I often get asked the question (especially since I’m remarried and appear to most to have healed from Chris’ death quite completely)…do I simply put him out of my mind? Is it easy to just forget?

As a matter of fact, this very topic came up twice in conversations just last week. Yes…I am healed. Yes…I’ve been able to proactively move forward in my life, and with a new husband. Yes…I smile a whole lot more. Yes…I’m able to counsel others going through similar circumstances. But…it’s impossible to forget. As long as I have a mind that remembers, I’ll never forget. Sometimes, I remember the great times we had together…from all the silly moments to the fun adventures to laughing hysterically. But, there are other times, I remember the worst day of my life…the day Chris’ lifeless body was recovered. Unfortunately, I can’t forget that either.

And, while I say unfortunately, I also know there is a beauty in remembering even those details. The beauty comes when I hear of someone else experiencing a tragedy of equal proportions.

When little Emilee died of rocky mountain spotted fever earlier this month…I could pray for her grieving parents, knowing a hint of their pain.

When the man jumped off the bridge to end his life earlier this year…I could pray for his loved ones left behind, understanding a fragment of their pain.

When a sweet friend lost her husband to a sudden medical problem…I could pray in the hospital with her, feeling a bit of her pain.

While the easy way out would be to simply forget, I know it’s in the remembering God is most glorified. It’s in the remembering that I can comfort those with the same comfort that I’ve also received from Him (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). It’s in the remembering that I can rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15). It’s in the remembering that I can see how very near God has been to me all the days of my life, from the tiniest of celebrations to the greatest times of pain (Hebrews 13:5).

God reached for me when I was in a pit. He rescued me from very deep waters, and He’s been restoring me ever since! And for that reason alone…I choose not to forget.